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Dodging a Bullet From .50-Caliber Legislation

April 24, 2002

Columnist George Skelton has clearly joined the ranks of the misinformed with his diatribe against .50-caliber firearms ("Massive Rifle Needs Regulation to Keep It Out of the Hands of Terrorists," April 18). The legislation that would regulate these rifles is much more draconian than Skelton lets on.

While the bill allows people to keep their currently owned rifles--so long as they register them--it also criminalizes the sale or possession of the .50-caliber Browning machine gun ammunition they utilize. Of what use is a rifle whose ammunition has been banned? This creates a de facto ban on the weapons themselves, for they can never be fired.

How this provision passed the sanity test is incomprehensible.

But ultimately I see no problem with this bill. Should it pass, gun makers and gunsmiths will simply alter the cartridge slightly--perhaps making it .49-caliber--and then re-barrel existing rifles. Problem solved, and perfectly legal.

Brooks A. Pangburn



Skelton quotes from an article I wrote for http://www.KeepAnd I reported what is commonly known among the informed--that millions of good Americans, after enduring years of oppression as gun owners, have reached the sad but logical conclusion that only violence will restore the full, free exercise of their right to own and use firearms. For reporting this fact, Skelton says I should be denied a proposed California rifle "permit."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday April 26, 2002 Home Edition California Part B Page 24 Metro Desk 1 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
Ammunition-An April 24 letter stated that AB 2222 'criminalizes the sale or possession of .50-caliber Browning machine gun ammunition.' The bill allows the legal owners of .50-caliber BMG rifles to purchase the ammunition.

I'm not surprised that Skelton's automatic, un-American response to hearing unpleasant facts is to recommend punishing the messenger. Nor am I surprised that he used absurd terms like "superguns," "small cannons" and "monsters" to describe common .50-caliber rifles--even though many models can be shoulder-fired; nor that he used Clintonian distortions in saying the guns were "capable of taking out" concrete bunkers, armored personnel carriers, hovering helicopters or destroying tanker trucks at 2,000 yards. Such propaganda is normal for liberal elitists. And I'm not surprised that Skelton didn't tell readers that my article was about avoiding future violence.

Skelton need not worry about my getting a gun "permit." I would never apply for a permit to own any gun, any more than I would apply for a permit to own a Bible, or Torah, or printing press, or to obtain legal counsel or to assemble with other citizens.

Brian Puckett

Los Angeles

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